I’ve been feeling stuck for ideas for posts, or as Dotty Headbanger would put it, I’ve been suffering from the dreaded Wordy Block. Actually I’ve not just been stuck for post ideas, but feeling stuck in general.
Today I decided to do something about it, so I sat down on the sofa and did nothing. That’s right zilch, nada, niente. This was my cunning plan you see- if I sat down to do precisely nothing, I might find out what’s really going on inside me.
So recently I’ve been feeling:
Plan A: Try Harder and Do More.
So far my solution to getting over these symptoms has been to try harder and do more. But after a week of pressurising and flogging myself I’ve finally realised that this approach isn’t working. Every time I start something new I get distracted, frustrated, can’t concentrate and give up. I’m constantly flitting from one thing to another.
Plan B: Do Nothing.
Part 1: Doing nothing.
Part 2: Mad conversation with self on paper.
So how did that go?
Initially I sat down, shut my eyes and asked myself what was up? What was really up- not just that I couldn’t write a post. So much came into my mind that I ended up writing it all down and now I’m typing it out so all you lovely people can try Plan B when you get stuck!
After writing down the problem and the symptoms I was experiencing (as above), I realised I was being really mean with myself by putting on too much pressure and setting overly-high expectations. Becoming angry and frustrated with myself was just making me shut down the emotions I was really going through. I wasn’t at all in touch with what I was really feeling and experiencing- just trying to deny and hide from it all.
Part 2: Mad Conversation With Self : Transcript
I feel lazy for not working, and guilty and ashamed for the same reason.
Why? What am I afraid of?
Fear of being judged by other people, God, etc.
What if God and the world are just fine with me not working? What if all I had to do was sit here in this chair and I would still be loved completely? How would that feel?
Like a huge weight had been lifted. I’d feel relieved, lighter, more relaxed, less tense. It would be freeing and I would feel really cared about.
What would you do?
Sit here and think. Feel the love that doesn’t care if I sit in a chair all day. Feel cared about. Let myself fall asleep. Write down anything that comes to mind. If I feel like putting music on, I’ll do that. If I feel like reading Fifty Shades of Grey I’ll do that. Stuff that none of it is “productive”! It’s productive in the sense that I’m learning to look after myself! Make something nice for lunch- a cheese salad sandwich. Watch something good on TV.
(It’s amazing how guilty I often feel just for existing!! It’s like I wont let myself enjoy anything. I seriously need to let my hair down!)
What else is bothering me?
I’m really worried Chris will leave me. (Whoa! Didn’t realise that one was there!)
Because I’m not working at the moment. Because I don’t have the body of Jessica Alba. Because I’m irritable and snappy. Because I’m not bloody perfect!! Feel I don’t give him anything, don’t contribute anything positive.
Of course I do: love, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, devotion, kindness, caring, support, freedom and space, attention, affection, fun, laughter, joy in shared interests and experiences, companionship. I’m a great person and I’m only moody the minority of the time. I’m also probably not as moody as I think I am, and I do apologise.
Results of Plan B
I feel much better about myself and I have this lovely post for you all! Problem solved!
Photo Credit: photomyheart via freedigitalphotos.net
To the Bully,
You scared me. You belittled me. You made me feel inferior, like a slave. I spent far too much of my time trying to please you in order to gain your approval. I didn’t realise that you didn’t give a shit about me. I worried and fretted about your anger, aggression and spite. I didn’t understand that there are people in the world who are only out for themselves. You were so skilled at pretending to be someone’s friend and then stabbing them in the back.
You raged and shouted- blaming your whole sorry existence and misery on a few of us gentle ones. I thought I wasn’t good enough, but it was you who projected this onto me. You are filled with rage and pain. I felt it every time I was in a room with you- you loved to share it out with us. I tried my best to understand you and be compassionate. I did my very best. I now know that there are people in the world who cannot love other people. I couldn’t even comprehend this at the time- it was completely foreign to me. You enjoy inflicting misery and pain: it gives you security.
But now I am beginning to see the gifts you’ve given me. You helped me to wake up to the misery I was living in everyday at work, and to see that I was desperately trying to be something I wasn’t. I will never feel alive working in an office for a company only out to make money. I will never be trendy and with the “in” crowd. I was never cared about in a group I truly thought were friends, but turned out to be completely dysfunctional. Friends can be toxic.
You’ve shown me my magnificent side. Your hatred of my talents and strengths have just spurred me on to cherish them and change my life. I don’t want to be like you. I can’t believe I spent so much time and energy getting you to like me. It’s quite funny really!!
I feel sorry that you are lonely and have no love in your life- only the vague illusion of it. You’d have liked me to be an alcoholic, go clubbing, to have no relationship and be stupid. It is sad that you feel the need to be around others you judge to be inferior just so you can feel better about yourself. Now I hope that one day you will see the love and light in life and that you don’t have to spend your time in misery.
I forgive myself for my anger towards you, and for judging you. I remember to see the gifts you have given me.
I needed to quit my job. I’m happy I did. I need time to heal and to learn to be and love myself just as I am. I don’t want to feel ashamed to be me. I don’t want to feel ashamed to be successful. I don’t want to be so damn scared of being judged and criticised by others. To be ashamed of myself as a person is one of the cruelest things I could do to myself. Perhaps I was the real bully in allowing myself to be abused by others.
To the Other Bully: Me
I’m sorry I made you small.
I’m sorry I told you that you are wrong to be you, that you are faulty and a freak.
I’m sorry I told you that you shouldn’t be yourself.
I’m sorry I denied you.
I’m sorry I made you say yes, when you screamed no! at the top of your lungs.
I’m sorry I made you say no, when you ached to say yes.
I’m sorry I made you believe the bullies were right.
I’m sorry I let others treat you like shit.
I’m sorry I hated you for not fitting in.
I’m sorry I forced you to be someone you’re not.
I’m sorry I’ve gagged and bound you, hidden you from the world.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you feel what was natural to feel.
I’m sorry I haven’t let you fly.
I’m sorry for abusing and ridiculing you when you became depressed and anxious.
I’m sorry for trapping you in a life you hated.
I’m sorry I felt disgusted and repelled by you.
I’m sorry I didn’t protect you from harsh people and environments.
I’m sorry I made other people superior to you.
You are beautiful, creative, intelligent and full of love for others and for life. Remember and believe this.
You are free to fly…
After a bit of a dip yesterday (see Supermarket Anxiety) I decided to try and figure out what was really going on inside for me. Anxiety and a bit of panic in the supermarket are very rarely about shopping- more a symptom of some inner turmoil. (Think I need to alter the combination of Bach Flower Remedies I’m taking.)
So in the evening I sat in bed with my calming pipey music (think spa), shut my eyes and listened to what was going on. Oh my goodness! “You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’ll never get anywhere in life, why are you even bothering”! The negative bully voice has stealthily crept back into my mind over the last week- it’s so sneaky and I NEVER notice it re-emerging until depression/anxiety symptoms have already kicked in.
Before it gets too comfortable I intend to exterminate it swiftly! So far this morning I’m doing pretty well and reminding myself that I’m a pretty awesome person really! It really helps that the sun is shining!
Today I intend to:
Be very nice to myself.
Listen to my favourite music and sing at the top of my voice (sorry neighbours, but I’m on a journey of self-love!).
Look through old magazines and cut out pictures I love (with a view to doing some art- I will, I will, I will start some new art. Really, I will.)
Plan a dream holiday- maybe find some pictures for a new board on Pinterest. (I’m thinking sea, snorkelling, wildlife, amazing scenery, sun, more wildlife, reading, more snorkelling and more wildlife :). And a luxury hotel with a spa. Mmmmmm.)
Wear sunscreen 🙂
If you need a laugh, this is an insanely funny post by a woman called Dotty: The Dotty Way to Exercise. Hilarious.
One Day: SPOILER ALERT
Oh and don’t watch the romantic drama One Day with Anne Hathaway & Jim Sturgess. SHE DIES! HORRIBLY! They don’t put that on the box!! They really should put that on the box or give you some kind of warning!!! Over-sensitive people like me get extremely upset when things like this happen! It’s very traumatising. I’ll need a few days to get over it.
I think a common theme popping up in those of us with Bipolar (and probably depression, anxiety, OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder too) is that we’re really tough on ourselves and seem to set way higher standards for ourselves than others. We’re also damn mean to ourselves: you wouldn’t tell your best friend she had a fat butt and looked damn ugly! OK, I’m sure we do this unconsciously, but maybe we could become more aware of it and challenge it a bit.
Today I got all geared up to take Cassie out for a walk. We set out on our usual route and within the first 5 minutes it began tipping down with rain. We were totally drenched so I decided to take her back and walk her later.
When we got home, my partner made a joke saying sarcastically- “that was a long walk then”. He meant it in a harmless way. But my immediate reaction was hostile, I felt really annoyed by it. It had pushed a sensitive button!
So that got me thinking, why should a seemingly good-humoured dig offend me so much? Then I realised I had already been chastising myself for not carrying on the walk: you’re so lazy, you give up so easily, you’re so stupid!
What?! Where did that last comment come from?! Stupid?!
Anyway, it dawned on me I was so sensitive to my partner’s remark because I was already beating myself up. So his comment just lit the fuse I’d already set up for myself.
Why are we so harsh on ourselves?
The obvious answer would be that was how our parents treated themselves and maybe us, so it has become an ingrained, learned behaviour. We see how others act and copy, simple as. That’s part of how a kid learns. We think this is the norm.
But it’s not the norm, and never should be. We wouldn’t treat ANYONE else in this way! (Well maybe some would, but hopefully not).
To a small child, a harsh adult can bring us to feel that we are despicable and the lowest of the low.
Why do we continue to be harsh once we’ve realised we’re doing it?
But even when I questioned the thoughts that I was lazy and stupid, I still felt resistance to the more caring voice that said: it doesn’t matter, I can just take her out later. Not many people would walk their dog when it’s absolutely pouring with rain.
The inner bully just wouldn’t accept it and would begin its tirade over again. I’m ugly, I don’t deserve kindness, I’m scum.
Why do I feel so inherently evil inside? Why such resistance to a more compassionate voice? Do I think I don’t deserve such gentle treatment? Do I really think I’m so incredibly rotten at my core?
Going through the torment of Bipolar, you experience the utter hell that can be present in a human being. I think because we have seen that horror in ourselves, we believe that deep down, we really ARE that horrific.
I think every human being has the potential to live life at either end of the scale of great love or great evil. But in terms of Bipolar, maybe we SEE that capacity in ourselves, where others don’t? Through insecure, inconsistent parenting we have been shown how awful we can be, or how wonderful.
Now in Bipolar the pattern continues as adults, but is exacerbated: we see how great we could be (Mania) or how utterly inhuman (Depression). We don’t just see it, we experience how this would feel in terms of the way we think, feel, behave and JUDGE ourselves. We judge ourselves as despicable in depression and as superhumanly amazing in mania.
The Inner Bully as our Protection from Depravity
Maybe experiencing the depths of human depravity we apply our morals as “decent” citizens, seeing the potential we have for chaos of the worst kind, so keep our harsh judgements in order to control what we see as our innate potential for evil.
To us these harsh judgements help to keep our “depravity” in check. We see them as absolutely essential in keeping us from ACTING out any horrendous thoughts. If I chastise myself for raging at someone, it is because I FEAR my behaviour. It is out of control, it could get worse. But if I am hard on myself, it will help me feel I have some essence of humanity about me, that I can show a moral side. That there is some semblance of good still inside me. And ultimately that I can stop myself from repeating or acting on rage. The inner bully says NO, STOP! Remember how despicable you are, you must stop! Maybe that bully is just terrified.
I guess all this can filter down into smaller behaviours. Less damaging behaviours. It has become a habit to judge ourselves so harshly.
So perhaps we cling to the inner criticism because it’s the only we way know that we can control our innate bad-ness.
Out of all this chaos though, we have proved ourselves incredibly strong for resisting acting on our darkest thoughts. Galadriel in Lord of the Rings is tempted by the power of the ring, but she resists, she knows she will become a terrible, dark queen and knows deep down this is not what she wants. She is then free to continue her life as the beautiful elven mystic.
Just like Galadriel, we have to see that, despite perceiving ourselves as such terrifying creatures, we ARE NOT so. Galadriel was still Galadriel after envisioning her depraved alternative.
Despite what we learned as children and have subsequently experienced in Bipolar Disorder/Depression/OCD/Borderline Personality Disorder etc., we are still, in essence, spiritually made of love.
(Sometimes I get channelled messages from spirit and at this point they have started to speak through me- addressed to us all)
“Love is a light and shines so brightly that it cancels out the darkness. You have stayed in the light my friend, you are st
ill there and will continue to be so. Fear not. Trust us to keep you safe from the depravity you fear. You are all loved and exceptionally beautiful in your own ways. We are grateful to Rachel for helping us to speak to you. You who have seen the darkness. Do not fear, do not tremble, we are comforting you. Allow us into your hearts and minds for we long to be with you and show you how much you are loved. Let go of these dark thoughts towards your beautiful selves. They are a falsehood. See yourselves as shining beacons of love. Fill your lives with love of every kind. Fear not for your selves. It is important that you hear our message. We can only help you once you ask us. We can only help you if you feel deserving of us, which every single one of you are, infinitely deserving and worthy of love.
Go forth with joy in your heart my love. You are precious to us and we will never leave you.”
That’s the first time I’ve channelled on my blog and I don’t know how people will react to it. But I felt strongly compelled to do so by spirit and trust them. They really want us all to know how loved we are. I hope you can accept this. I’m starting to and my life is changing for the better because of it. It seems a fitting conclusion to my post.
My recent experience of being bullied at work has got me thinking about the way I treat myself.
If our outer reality mirrors our inner reality, then perhaps there has been something seriously amiss with the way I treat myself, something I’ve been blind to?
Being bullied made me feel:
Do I ever make myself feel this way?
It is so easy to view ourselves as:
-struggling through life
-less capable than others
-unworthy of a fulfilling, purposeful, joyful life full of the things we love.
During depression this can can develop even further to:
-disgust with ourselves (sounds severe, but I know I’ve felt like this)
-“less” than human
…..or any other abusive term that comes to mind.
As much as other people are able to bully us, so we are able to abuse ourselves. It is very easy to be blind to this self-treatment as it may have developed over a long period of time, or been the only way of thinking we’ve ever known.
However, we are able to help ourselves to lessen our negative thinking- which is in no way our fault (we were brought up learning to think in this way/influenced strongly by biological factors. We never asked to be this way).
It is a kindness to ourselves to firstly become aware of any self-abuse and secondly to replace it with love and acceptance.
Using affirmations to gently lead ourselves back to love is a practice taught by the wonderful spiritual writer Louise Hay. This involves repeating loving statements to ourselves. Instead of rationalizing our way out of negative thinking, as practised in CBT, we invite loving words into our hearts. In this way we are focusing on loving and accepting ourselves, rather than fixing ourselves, which CBT involves- which can infer some defect on our part.
Affirmations allow us to accept ourselves as we are. They allow us to love ourselves as we are, warts and all. We do not have to change. We open ourselves up to the universal love that is all around us in abundance.
-I love and appreciate myself just as I am.
-The universe loves and appreciates me just as I am.
-I am meant to be here. I am needed.
-I respect myself for surviving deep despair and anguish- I am developing great strength.
– I forgive myself the past.
-Today I will take beautiful care of myself because I am precious.
With regards to my own abusive self-talk, I open myself up to a new way of being:
-I have great respect for myself.
-I show myself great respect.
-I treat myself kindly.
– I am worthy and deserving of kind, respectful treatment.
– I release myself from self-blame.
-I forgive myself for treating myself harshly in the past.
Our right to a happy life.
As Bipolar sufferers we are challenged throughout our lives to endure many extremes of mood, the vast majority of which are painful, debilitating, confusing and lead easily to us blaming ourselves. We are not to blame and we are in no way less worthy of a happy, healthy life.
Our needs are different to others and it is perfectly acceptable that we adapt our lives to fulfil our needs and keep ourselves in balance. We need a more peaceful life, one filled with care and kindness towards ourselves, which in turn teaches others about the value of loving themselves.
Everybody has weaknesses, but also strengths. We are asked to remember these and focus our energy upon them, and love and respect ourselves enough to play with our gifts and talents without judgement.
My blog post yesterday was full of resistance to my emotional sensitivity and the pain it has brought me. I was feeling very bitter and resentful towards the people who have abused my softer nature, most recently in the form of bullying at work. I want to try and heal these angry, hateful thoughts.
I think the number one job involves forgiving myself, as outer reality is often said to be a reflection of your inner life. And I know I bully myself.
I forgive myself for trying to make myself fit into society- by pushing and pulling my soul around and denying my true self it’s needs in order to avoid the disapproval of others, criticism and bullying. I have abused my soul by ignoring it’s cries for creativity and expression, for feeling shame for liking the things I do and having a spiritual life. I have felt the need to hide this part of me. I am scared of being different. I was teased no end at school because I went to church every Sunday, one of about three in our class of thirty to do so. We were called bible-bashers, people didn’t want to hang around us. As a child I blindly allowed everyone to see me as I was- I loved listening to classical music from the age of 11, going to the ballet and going birdwatching. I naively shared my passions out in the open, unaware I would be an ideal bullying target. So naturally I shrunk back from my peers and started to feel ashamed of the things I loved- I felt hopelessly inadequate.
I forgive myself for hiding my authentic self, it was a perfectly natural defensive response. I no longer need to hide.
I forgive myself for allowing the opinions of others to be more important to me than being true to myself.
I forgive myself for rejecting my sensitive nature.
I will work towards forgiving the bullying, but I forgive myself for my current anger: I am only human.
I now allow my true, authentic self the freedom to flow and flourish.
I celebrate my authentic self by indulging in my passions. This is not selfish, it is an act of kindness towards myself.
I nurture the gifts my sensitivity brings me.
There are many other areas in which I would like to forgive myself, but I think working on one issue at a time is probably the way forward.